You won’t recognise the voice and are unlikely to hear any phrases that stick in the memory, because commentary on Wimbledon’s app and website this year is being provided by artificial intelligence.
The All England Club has announced that daily highlights clips will use AI commentary and text captions rather than human input.
Traditionalists may not agree but the technology from IBM watsonx is being described as ‘an exciting way’ to make commentary available beyond the courts.
To develop the system the AI commentator has been trained to use the ‘unique language of tennis’.
Dialogue for recorded highlights will also be generated with the use of a ball tracking data and information about the types of shot being used and locations of the players around the court.
A similar AI commentary model was used for the US Masters golf tournament this year.
For Wimbledon both male and female-sounding commentators will be used, although the voices will have no human input.
With line judges also likely to be replaced by technology in the coming years, even the most traditional of events is changing in line with the modern world.
‘I see AI as very much complementing the human element, rather than replacing,’ said IBM sports partnerships leader, Kevin Farrar.
‘You can’t replace John McEnroe doing commentary, that human element always needs to be there. It’s very much supplementing and complementing.
‘For Wimbledon, it’s about providing commentary in the future on matches that don’t currently have human commentary – like the seniors, juniors, wheelchair [events].’
Live human commentary of matches on show courts covered by the BBC, the host broadcaster, will still be available as normal. But AI could be used in future for live events as well.
Jonathan Adashek, senior vice-president of marketing and communications for IBM, said: ‘The AI and data platform that IBM is using to create unique fan experiences for Wimbledon is the same technology that we’re using to drive business transformation with clients across all sectors and industries.’